Ballinasloe had to put in a battling performance to overcome a strong Westport outfit in what turned out to be an absorbing contest at Carraholly on Sunday. Played in a heavy drizzle rolling in off Clew Bay, both sides gave it their all on a sticky surface while dealing with a greasy ball.

The visitors settled quickly and had the better of the early exchanges. Two penalties in the 7th and 12th minute from the boot of outhalf, Ruaidhri Doolan, gave them a nice confidence booster. Westport, in contrast, were slow to get their guns firing but then they scored on their first visit to their opponents half when Matthew Dempsey fired over a penalty after fifteen minutes to reduce the arrears to three points.

A late tackle on Cian Loughrey as he put up a garryowen was penalised by the referee and this gave Ballinasloe a foothold in the Westport half approaching half time. They were wide with a kick at goal just before the break when Doolan had to drop kick a penalty as the ball surprisingly toppled from the kicking tee for the third time.  

Westport upped the tempo on the turnover, playing a wide game that had Ballinasloe on the run. Dempsey landed an equalising penalty in the forty seventh minute.

The visitors came back to dominate the middle stretch of the second half. They began to win the breakdown area and had the upper hand in the scrums. When the hosts collapsed a scrum on their own line for the third successive time the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try and Ruaidhri Doolan added the conversion in the 57th minute to bring the score to 13pts to 6 in Ballinasloe’s favour. Big direct breaks into the heart of the locals defence by Rodney Cullinan, David Freeman and Conal Gormley  had the hosts scrambling to hold on but Ballinasloe could not find the score to put their opponents away. Westport were always a threat on the counter attack  and they finally struck in the 78th minute when Niall O’Malley finished off a passing movement with a try in the corner but the conversion dropped under the crossbar.

Ballinasloe finished strongly as they smartly ran down the clock in Westport’s half. When the hosts were penalised in the closing seconds for holding on after the tackle Doolan landed his third penalty with the last kick of the game to seal a deserved win.                                                                                         BALLINASLOE: D.Burke, C.Gormley, D.Freeman, R.Cullinan, Cian Loughrey, R.Doolan, Conor Loughrey, J.J.Carey, A.O’Hara(capt), T.Dolan, K.Headd, N.Staunton, A.Loughrey, J.Hayes, A.Doorley, Replacements(used): K.Gavin, R.Wakefield, H.Reynolds, J.Kelly, M.Tierney.

                                                        Age Grade Results

U19s-Ballinasloe defeated Corinthians by 20pts to 13 in their league meeting. They trailed by 5-7 at half time but came strong in the second half. Scorers for Ballinasloe: P.Claffey, M.Fahy, S.Tierney(1 try each), S.Keller(1 conv, 1 pen).                                                                                                                      U17s – Ballinasloe did not have it all their own way when overcoming Buccaneers in the league by 31pts to 15. A good first half performance saw them go 21-0 ahead but a Buccs fight back meant that Ballinasloe had to be on their toes to the finish. Scorers for Ballinasloe were D.Reilly(2 tries, 3 convs, 1 pen), O.Lyons and H.Darcy(1 try each), B.Horkan(1 conv).                                                           U14s-Ballinasloe 12pts  Sligo 5pts. Ballinasloe had to come from behind to win this tough encounter against a strong Sligo team. Ballinasloe scorers were N.Horan(1 try and conv), R.Parker(1 try).              U13s Ballinasloe defeated Corinthians by 10pts to 5 in their away fixture and remain unbeaten in their league to date. They are away to Castlebar next week. Scorers for Ballinasloe were J.Curley and R.Shiel(1 try each).                                                                                                                                                                L.Courtney, Club PRO


Gallery: HT minis – Ballinrobe, Ballyhaunis, Corinthians and Dunmore